From sleepwear to underwear, spending more time at home created new priorities in fashion for men and women alike. Similar to the surge in the lingerie market last year, the men’s underwear market is booming, with the U.S. market specifically projected to hit a valuation of $6 billion by 2027.
Millennials are leading the charge in the men’s underwear market, with growing demand for innovative underwear products that feature function and comfort while allowing for self expression through unique designs. Younger consumers are more interested in underwear brands that embrace a relatable aesthetic, body positivity and authenticity. Brands that depict an inclusive representation of men’s bodies and modern values are strongly resonating with Millennial and Gen Z audiences. To connect with shifting consumer needs, underwear brands like MeUndies, SAXX and Paper Project are deploying online advertising and ecommerce experiences tailored to Millennial and Gen Z audiences ahead of Valentine's Day.
MeUndies Captures Market Share With Bold Content, Targeted Social Ads & Subscription Services
Originally launched with a product line-up consisting only of men’s underwear, MeUndies has long been known as the Millennial-friendly underwear startup that wasn’t afraid of taking risks. Since 2011, the direct-to-consumer (DTC) online underwear retailer has become a fan favorite of Millennials and Gen Z. Recently MeUndies evolved its product line up to be more gender inclusive, positioning products, including matching themed underwear sets, dog apparel and unisex onesies, that cater to all fashion tastes,
MeUndies Social Media Strategy Makes A Statement & An Impact
MeUndies attributes much of its success in reaching and engaging younger consumers to its keen use of paid and organic social media. Known for their use of entertaining gifs and videos that show their products in silly situations, MeUndies currently has more than 400,000 Instagram followers and more than half a million Facebook followers. MeUndies social content is dynamic, fun and representative of their customer values.
The ecommerce-based underwear brand regularly encourages interaction with its followers through its #MeUndiesModel campaign as a call to action to submit user-generated content (UGC). MeUndies says, “Grab your boo, fam, friends, or even your dog (seriously, dogs make everything better), and have a MeUndies photo shoot from home.” After sharing photos with the branded hashtag, consumers are entered for the chance to be featured as MeUndies models on the brand’s social pages. The use of UGC as part of the brand’s organic social strategy helps MeUndies further its position as an inclusive brand and resonate with its target audience. Currently, MeUndies is leveraging the call for UGC submission to promote it’s Valentine’s Day collection and MatchMe product line up. The MatchMe products line is a collection that empowers each customer to “match their better half” with items such as his-and-hers matching undergarment patterns and onesies for FLFs (four-legged friends) to match their owners.
In 2018, MeUndies committed to amplifying its use of paid media on Facebook and Instagram to boost its customer acquisition efforts. Mining its first-party data, MeUndies identified the characteristics of its current customers including their values and interests. Using that data, MeUndies implemented Facebook’s value-based lookalike audience targeting capabilities to deploy high impact ad campaigns on Facebook and Instagram. MeUndies promoted short-form videos, featuring both men and women in bold, attention-grabbing and colorful images alongside simple ad copy. The MeUndies use of value-based audience targeting, compared to prior campaigns based on demographic targeting, led to a 97% increase in incremental purchases and helped the brand reach 1.4 million new consumers according to a Facebook case study. The MeUndies director of growth marketing Elaine Chiang said, “Facebook’s value-based lookalike audiences allowed us to shift away from single-purchase customers who drive high-volume conversions to customers with a much higher lifetime value. We saw lifts on our return on ad spend across both Instagram and Facebook with incremental purchases and purchase values.”
MeUndies Subscription Service Aligns With Millennial Values Of Affordability & Optionality
MeUndies was one of the first subscription underwear services on the market. Currently, MeUndies has 50,000 subscribers and its subscription services represent approximately half of the brand’s sales. At $16 a month for their men’s subscription, the MeUndies monthly subscription service aligns with its target audiences’ demands for affordable options. In addition to an inclusive price point, MeUndies offers item optionality within its subscription service providing customers the choice of boxers, briefs and other undergarments from the classic, bold and adventurous collections. MeUndies is committed to offering diverse inventory and is known to add up to 52 new patterns and designs to its ecommerce store every year. This month, MeUndies announced the launch of its Marvel-inspired collection with designs and symbols representing the Avengers.
Recently, MeUndies added a member discount on any additional transactions to subscribers. Currently, MeUndies is promoting it’s MatchMe collection and the option to “match once or match monthly” as part of its Valentine's Day marketing push. Also part of its Valentine’s Day efforts, MeUndies has a holiday-themed gift guide on its website to direct consumers to the perfect item to “match through it all.”
SAXX Uses Cheeky Humor & Content Marketing To Connect With Consumers
SAXX Underwear Co. is a company by men and for men. Founded by an avid outdoorsman and athlete, SAXX is committed to “revolutionizing the core staple of every man’s wardrobe” through patented garment design. Currently, SAXX is one of the fastest-growing men’s underwear brands in the U.S. market. The SAXX product line-up includes a variety of styles and fits for boxers and boxer briefs, performance wear and swimwear and collections inspired by everyday use, sport and adventure. Identifying older Millennials as their archetypal consumer, social media and long-form video content are impactful digital channels and tactics for SAXX to engage its target audiences.
SAXX Leverages Social Media For Valentine’s Day Campaign Launch
Leveraging the depth of its 94,000 Instagram followers, SAXX started focusing its Instagram content on Valentine’s Day related promotions in early January. In true Millennial and “bromance” fashion, the latest campaign from SAXX was the result of sliding into someone’s DMs. After the “Dude With Sign” meme went viral during the height of pandemic concerns in 2020. “The team at SAXX started noticing the unmistakable SAXX waistband peeking out in some of Dude With Sign’s photos,” Taylor McKinnon, SAXX brand manager, told Tim Chan of Rolling Stone. “[We] reached out and started some friendly banter with him on Instagram, where they quickly learned how they’re his go-to underwear. Immediately they knew they wanted to work together on something fun and creative.” The key message for the Instagram-based SAXX campaign is simple, “Don’t forget the balls.”
SAXX is leveraging the influence of the viral meme page to promote it’s patented, “Ballpark pouch” technology that offers men a comfortable, breathable fit. SAXX notes that the meme-inspired Valentine’s Day campaign is just the start of much more to come. McKinnon said, “Our mission is to support men in stepping outside their comfort zones to drive positive change. Dude With Sign, with his sarcastic messages that spotlight the things we’re all really thinking but can’t find the nerve to say, is the ultimate embodiment of that.”
SAXX Introduces Shocking Video Series
The SAXX social media partnership with @thedudewithasign is not the first time SAXX has debuted bold content. In Q4 2020, SAXX launched the video web-series, Curveball. Posting videos on IGTV, YouTube and the SAXX website, Curveball features real conversations with men on real and often uncomfortable topics. According to the SAXX website,“You’ll laugh, you’ll squirm, you might even rethink what it means to have ‘balls.’” Curveball episodes feature athletes from the NFL and NHL alongside entrepreneurs and fitness gurus. The Curveball web series is a clear example that SAXX has identified long-form video content as a strong strategy to connect with its core customers.
Newcomer Paper Project Enters Men’s Underwear Market With Values-Based Incentive
While bold content and cheeky humour have worked for many brands, certain men’s underwear brands are taking a different approach to connect with their target audiences. Launched in 2019, ecommerce-based Paper Project is the new kid on the block in the men’s underwear market and represents a wellness approach to undergarments. Paper Project describes its products as made for fit, comfort and stress relief, adding that they are also kind to the environment, with sustainability and social responsibility being essential parts of the online underwear retailer’s brand. Paper Project is committed to “minimizing their environmental impact.” This practice is reflected in many aspects of the Paper Project’s business, from manufacturing to distribution. Nearly all Paper Project items contain the material paper yarn, which is an eco-friendly textile extracted from creating fibers from raw materials of fast-growing, ecological plants like manila hemp and spruce.
In addition to eco-friendly materials, Paper Project has been in partnership with the National Forest Foundation since its inception. The brand promotes a “buy one, plant one” incentive where the company donates one tree for every pair of socks sold. As of November 2020, Paper Project had planted approximately 2,500 trees. The Paper Project website notes, “ We try our best to minimize our environmental impact, however, we do use natural resources to some extent in our production process. In return for the benefits of natural resources, what we can do is to contribute positively to the global environment.” Paper Project is one of many brands that has identified the importance of aligning with the values and concerns of its core audiences. While Paper Project continues to expand its digital brand footprint, its website and online offers for gift sets, its product bundles and the brand’s social responsibility commitment will help it tap into the values of its target market while creating a seamless online shopping experience.
Holidays Are Not One-Size-Fits-All Advertising Events
As the surge in consumer interest for undergarments continues, underwear, socks and related items are likely to be top gift options this Valentine’s Day. As February 14 approaches, men’s underwear brands like MeUndies, SAXX and Paper Project are leveraging digital strategies, authentic messaging, subscription services and social responsibility to connect with their target audiences. Brands that can attract new customers ahead of the love-filled holiday have an opportunity to boost customer engagement and create brand loyalty through the year. It’s essential that brands focus on staying true to their messaging, promoting values that resonate with growing audience segments and deploying strategies that align with evolving needs of their target markets.
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